The Father and his Children

Here is a story:

There once was a man who had four children. The oldest one went looking for work in a town called Mpiwe. In that town he earned a vast fortune: it included many goats and many cows, and then he came back. When he returned, he didn’t come to live with his father, he lived by himself 13 kilometres away from his father’s house. Then he sent an invitation to his father and mother: Please come to visit me because I have returned. When his parents came to visit him, they were delightfully surprised to discover that their son was magnificently rich. He vowed to them that he would give them goats and cows which they could raise and breed. The father said: I will send your younger brother to get them and to bring them to us, and then the father returned home. When he returned home, he told his other son: Bring us our goats and our cows from your brother’s house. The child got up and went. When this younger brother arrived at the river, something hit him in the leg and he heard it say: Don’t go to your brother or you will die. He bent down, picked it up, and found that it was an insignificant little object. So he kicked it and went on. Finally, he arrived at his older brother’s house. His older brother welcomed him open-heartedly. He said to him: O.K., sleep and rest today, I will give you the animals tomorrow. The younger brother agreed and fell asleep, but the older brother turned into a Lion at night. He grabbed his younger brother and devoured him whole. When the older brother ate his younger brother, the father said to his family: My child will return. After some time passed, the younger son didn’t come back. So, the father sent another son, and just as before, the oldest son ate his other brother.

This bewildered the father and he decided to send his youngest son and told him: Follow them and find out if your older brothers made it there. He, like others, reached the river and was warned by the same little object: Do not go to your brother or you will die. Since he was still a child, he decided to take the object with him and arrived at his brother’s house. His oldest brother welcomed him open-heartedly and he started to talk about why his father had sent him there, so he asked: Did my other brothers make it here? The oldest brother confessed: Yes, once they got the goods they went off on their way and said ‘We will make our own fortune’. His younger brother said: Truly, I will take it all. Then he fell asleep.

His older brother wanted to eat him as well that night. The little object the youngest son had taken from the riverside began to advise him: When you hear your oldest brother’s footsteps coming to the house, call on me saying: ’Wind, wind, I will turn into the wind’. As his oldest brother was coming to the house, he found nothing but a gust of wind running through the room. He spent the whole night looking for him, but to no avail. He didn’t manage to eat him up to the morning and so the oldest brother gave him the cows and the goats. In the daylight, when the oldest brother went to see him off, he suddenly turned into a Lion. The little object called out to the cows: You cows, you cows. The cows started to run all the way back to the father’s house. The younger brother went back to his father and then told him: My oldest brother turns into a Lion and he ate my other brothers. So the father said: We will fight him. Then the father went to his oldest son’s house and he burned him alive and turned his house into dust. And that’s how the father gathered all the riches.

And that is the end of our story.

The moral of the story: we are all one family in Christ and so we should love each other with patience since God is our Creator.

The Mambwe proverbs say: Do not refuse to share the little food you have with your brother: you people who are proud, you are snobbish (Kano walya utima umunyonko, antu amalingo yakalingoka).

Subjects: brotherhood – children of God – egoism – hatred – family – love and patience


Written by Kleto Kaputu, 30th August 1994.